I’ve been a runner since college. I took up the sport because, as a result of too much beer and late-night fried food, I’d become a victim of the so-called “Freshman 15.” Running was cheap. No gym membership, just a pair of shoes and you can go straight from your front door.
In the beginning, I was a roadrunner. I ran alone. Well, mostly alone. Sometimes I took my sister’s dog out for runs, but not often because he was decidedly anti-running. We would get about a mile in and he would sit down and refuse to move. I would gently tug, beg and plead. But he was steadfast. Eventually, I gave up, and we would walk home together.
Back in those days, I ran maybe 3 days a week. My individual runs were probably in the 4 to 6 mile range.
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So, a few things were critical in order to make sure this was a successful adventure and no one was airlifted out from inside the canyon.
- Everyone got along with one another and that had been tested before in difficult conditions.
- Everyone had run together before and was confident in each other’s abilities.
- Everyone studied the map.
- Everyone was briefed on what the adventure would entail — the elevation gain, available water in the canyon, possible weather conditions, etc.
I found these same tenants to be true in building a business. I used many of these criteria (more or less) when choosing the cofounders for my first startup, and when it was time to build our team. What’s the culture, and are these people a fit for that? Is everyone acutely aware of what it’s going to take to get this business off the ground? Have they seen the roadmap? Etc.
In conclusion, ultrarunning is crazy. No doubt about it. But life is also crazy.
In order to prepare yourself for how crazy life will be, I have always found it useful to practice rolling with the punches. For me, this means simulating life’s highs and lows in a controlled environment. Building up my reserves of strength in a place away from the busy hum of life, where there is dirt underfoot (or rocks, if you live in Colorado) no judgment, no pressure, just the sound of my own breathlessness and maybe a friend’s voice.
Now, I am ready when life decides to unexpectedly sucker-punch me in the gut. Are you? If not, may I recommend a long-distance run?